I write in response to John McCroskey’s Sept. 1 commentary (“Thoughts on mandatory vaccines and illegal border crossings”) and about Woodland City Council’s opposition to mask and vaccine mandates.
Q: Why do state and federal governments impose mandates?
A: Because there are too many folks who are ignorant or just plain dumb.
Here’s the ignorant part: Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers don’t seem to be aware of the statistics reported daily. The U.S. has had about 643,000 COVID-19 deaths and recent spikes, such as those in Cowlitz and Clark counties, suggest that we will have 700,000 by year end. Hospitals are being overwhelmed again by severely ill COVID patients and there has been an alarming increase in illness and death in children. Some 90-98 percent of adults hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated.
And here’s the dumb part: Initially COVID-19 was dismissed as a “Chinese hoax.” Many still believe that neither the masks nor the vaccines are effective. Of course, the opposite is true — they are both safe and, especially the vaccines, are extraordinarily effective. In fact, masks, vaccines and social distancing are the only current remedies we have to confront this serious, deadly disease, until we develop herd immunity. However, that won’t happen until about 80 percent of us are vaccinated. Current rates of the fully-vaccinated are only about 55 percent, and most of the unvaccinated are Republicans. Yes, there is a political component to this issue.
Anti-folks don’t just question the effectiveness of our vaccines, they invent their own treatments. Remember bright lights and bleach? Hydroxychloroquine? Fox News is touting ivermectin, a treatment for parasitic worms in livestock.
Republicans generally seem to have a wholesale disregard for government, scientific and medical information, and they don’t trust the news media. Much of this distrust emerged from Donald Trump and his “fake news” rants for the past five years. Did Dr. Fauci change his mind about COVID treatment? Of course. That’s because COVID-19 is a novel and very serious virus. All viruses multiply rapidly in suitable hosts (us) and their multiple mutations create variants. And some, such as delta, are very serious and deadly. The scientific community also had to change its recommendations as we learned more about the virus, and treatment protocols such as booster shots will continue to change.
But the core anti-mantra is that mandates violate constitutional rights and personal freedom. My argument is that ignoring mask and vaccine mandates violates the rights of everyone, and potentially inflicts harm on others, especially the most vulnerable to the disease. Those groups include the elderly, immune-compromised and minority people. Ignoring the mandates also puts at risk teachers, medical staff and children who are too young to be vaccinated.
If we want to restore our basic liberties and personal freedoms by allowing us to return to our jobs, schools, religious institutions, restaurants, bars, concerts and sporting events, then we need to comply with the mandates. Sorry, folks, avoiding a deadly threat to the public and protecting us from severe illness and death outweighs the so-called violation of personal rights.
So how can the anti-people be convinced to comply? Name-calling and shaming don’t seem to help (and, yes, I did some of that). Presenting reliable data doesn’t seem to help, either. Perhaps hearing about an unvaccinated, pregnant nurse who died from COVID would help. Or hearing from an unvaccinated individual who nearly died during weeks of suffering in a hospital critical care unit, but recovered: “Gee, I guess I should have gotten my shots.” And maybe, most persuasive of all: having a child, loved one or friend turn into one the 700,000 COVID victims.